The Kiel Fire Department is now in possession of an old German firefighting helmet—possibly dating back as far as 1890.
Former Kiel resident Margaret (Ruh) Brubaker presented the helmet to Chief Bob Hennings on a visit to the community last week.
Brubaker came into possession of the helmet on one of her trips to Germany (see adjacent story). The helmet and her gift to the KFD had special meaning to her, she said, because her late father Melvin was a longtime member of the department. Hennings said Melvin was a captain in the department when he joined the department fresh out of high school in 1975.
Brubaker said the Sievert family which is mentioned in the adjacent article received the helmet when an old fire station in their community in Germany was being cleaned out. After she received it from the Sieverts, Brubaker said she and husband Barry displayed it in their home until a recent downsizing caused them to think about donating it to the KFD. “It’s just time to move some things along,” she said.
Brubaker recounted that her father—who worked for many years for Kiel’s Department of Public Works—was injured twice during his service to the KFD. One time he took a pitchfork through his boot while working a barn fire, and another time he got his fingers smashed on a truck or ladder.
Hennings said Melvin—who passed away in 2007—was a good member of the department because he could easily break away from his day job with the City of Kiel to respond to fires. Asked how the older firefighters treated newcomers like Hennings in 1975, Hennings said, “They were great to us. They never thought they were better than us.”
The old fire helmet is made of leather and Brubaker said she treated the leather to help preserve it. Hennings noted the small size of the helmet, adding that he plans to put it in a display case and possibly mount it on a wall in the KFD meeting room to complement an old KFD fire hat which the department now possesses.